A dislocation occurs when a bone is forced out of its joint, causing intense pain and mobility issues. It can occur in any joint and is usually caused by physical trauma, such as a car accident or a fall.

Depending on the injury’s severity, recovery from a dislocation can take a few weeks to several months, during which time you may be unable to work or perform basic activities of daily living without difficulty and pain. Understanding the recovery process after a dislocation is crucial to ensure proper treatment and a full recovery.

At Wagner Reese, we recognize the physical and emotional toll that dislocations can have on your quality of life. If someone else’s misconduct or negligence leads to your injury, our lawyers can determine if you are entitled to financial compensation for lost wages, current and future medical bills, and pain and suffering.

Causes of a Dislocation

Forceful impacts, such as falling on a slippery surface, a motor vehicle accident, or an  accident at a physical demanding job are common causes of dislocation injuries.

For example, car accidents often cause anterior shoulder dislocations, which make up around 97% of all shoulder dislocation injuries. Slip and fall accidents, such as slipping on a spilled liquid or icy sidewalk, often result in serious injuries like hip dislocations and hip fractures, which are responsible for 800,000 hospitalizations yearly.

Joints with a shallow socket or a high range of mobility, such as the shoulder, fingers, or elbow, have an increased risk of dislocation.

Signs of dislocation include:

  • Sudden or severe pain, swelling, deformity, or misalignment at the affected joint
  • Limited mobility or complete inability to move the joint
  • Bruising, numbness, or tingling in the affected area

The affected joint may look visibly out of place, and you may experience weakness, unsteadiness, or difficulty standing, if the dislocation is to a joint on the lower body. In severe cases, there may be an audible pop or snap at the time of injury. If you suspect a dislocation, seek medical attention immediately, as untreated dislocations can lead to additional damage, chronic pain, and long-term joint instability.

Dislocation Treatment and Recovery Timeline

The recovery timeline for a dislocated joint depends on factors such as what joint is affected and the injury’s severity. For minor dislocations, recovery time is typically a few weeks if you receive immediate medical attention. However, if you have a severe dislocation that requires surgery, it will likely take several months to heal.

Your treatment and recovery from a dislocation occur in stages, including:

  • Acute Treatment: Immediately After the Injury

Immediately after the injury, you need rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) to prevent swelling and complications like nerve damage. Your doctor will take an X-ray or MRI to confirm the dislocation and determine the best course of treatment.

Depending on the severity of the injury, the joint may be realigned manually or surgically. If there is damage to the nerves and blood vessels or your tendons and ligaments have been torn or stretched, you may need surgery to repair these structures.

Once the joint is back in place, it must be immobilized to prevent re-injury.

Depending on the location of the dislocation, your doctor may apply a splint, buddy tape, or a sling, which you wear for about 6 weeks, with a full recovery in 5 to 6 months if you underwent surgery.

  • Rehabilitation Phase: 2 to 12 Weeks

Your doctor may prescribe physical therapy after the initial healing phase to help improve joint mobility and strength. This critical stage lays the foundation for a full recovery and helps prevent future dislocations.

Physical therapy during this phase may include a variety of exercises and activities, such as:

  • Range of motion exercises
  • Strength training
  • Stretching
  • Balancing and stability exercises

Your physical therapist will monitor your progress and make any necessary adjustments to the rehabilitation plan. 

  • Return to Normal Activities

Your doctor may allow you to return to normal activities once the joint is reduced and immobilized. However, regaining mobility and function of your dislocated joint can take months.

Returning to normal activities too soon makes it more likely that you may dislocate that joint again. While recovering, you may be unable to work at the same capacity or even return to work until you are fully healed.

When Should I Contact a Lawyer?

If you suffered a dislocation during a car crash, slip and fall accident, or on the job, you may be able to file a claim to be compensated for your losses. When someone else’s carelessness causes your injuries, the Indianapolis slip and fall lawyers and Indiana vehicle accident lawyers at Wagner Reese can help you navigate Indiana’s personal injury laws to get you maximum compensation.

Our legal team can speak with doctors, review your medical records, obtain eyewitness testimony, and collect evidence like CCTV footage or photos to help determine liability in your case.

We’ll also help you navigate the state’s comparative fault rule, which prevents you from receiving damages if you are more than 50% responsible for your injuries. The statute also reduces your award based on your percentage of fault; for instance, if you are 10% at fault, your damages would be reduced by 10%.

Set Up a Complimentary Case Review for Your Case

If you have suffered a dislocated joint due to another person’s negligent behavior, speak with a personal injury attorney at Wagner Reese. We can assess your damages and gather evidence to prove the financial and emotional impact of the injury on your life to get you fair compensation.

We will advocate for your rights during the claims process and negotiate for the highest settlement possible.